Someone asked me recently if I’ve been writing. He asked me why when I told him no and I said, “Because I’m happy.” Saying that was equal parts true, false, and made me feel like a phony. It’s true because I’m pleased to share that for the most part, I am happy. It’s also false because I simply can be too lazy to write sometimes. And it made me feel like a phony because what kind of writer only writes when she’s not happy? That’s not how this works. Anne Lamott would be disappointed.

I’ve felt busier than normal the past couple months (summers are typically that way), so I’ve been winding down my days with Netflix instead of with a book or writing. Not that Netflix doesn’t have its place, but if I recall, I dubbed 2019 “The Year of Tessa.” Watching Netflix every night doesn’t do much for Tessa. Reading does. Writing does. And now that I’m sitting down to write, it’s very clear to me that the reason I haven’t been is because I’ve been avoiding things.

I’m in a book club with my two roommates and a handful of other friends. One of my roommates chose the last book: Ohio by Stephen Markley. I was excited to read it because I’d admittedly only read one of the four other books that had been selected for book club so far this year. My other roommate came home a few days after the book was selected, excited that he was almost finished with it. He has a gnarly commute and listens to books on tape, so he whizzes through them. He told me that it was sad and I said, “Like a good sad?” He cocked his head a bit and said, “I guess? Not really. I think just sad,” at which point my subconscious perked up and said, “Mmk, I’ll pass.” According to my Kindle, I read 10% of it before I let the digital library loan expire.

I started to think about why I kept putting the book down every time I picked it up. I had the time to read – I just wasn’t reading. Generally as a rule of thumb, I avoid really sad movies or shows, attributing it to everyday life being sad enough all by itself without some dumb show also bumming me out, and suddenly I found myself doing it with a book. Avoiding sad things doesn’t keep sad things from happening, though. Sad things happen. All the time. I know this. Just a couple months ago, both of my grandpas died within 18 hours of each other. My breath shortens slightly when I think too much about that. And I think I wasn’t reading Ohio because I wanted to avoid any additional sadness, and that’s honestly the lamest shit I’ve ever let myself do. A few months after John died, I went to see The Big Sick, in which there’s an aerial shot of the main character’s love interest lying in a hospital bed with the exact same breathing apparatus that John had while he was dying. I handled that. Why can’t I handle a sad book, two and a half years later, because my grandpas died?

I started writing this to say that I’m happy and suddenly I’m writing about sadness. Funny how that happens. I am happy though. To quote myself, “Happiness and grief are not mutually exclusive; I can feel both pure joy and grief at the same time.” (Once in college, I wrote an essay about Edgar Allan Poe’s fascination with phrenology and my professor for the class gave me an article that he wrote about EAP for the Harvard Review to reference in my essay, and I imagine the way people feel when I quote myself is kind of like how I felt when he did that. But alas, here we are.) Anyway. Avoiding is for the birds. Reading and writing and feeling things is for everyone else. Sorry, birds.

Complaining is Boring

It’s cold. It’s dry. It’s grey. It’s February in Indiana. For some reason, every February, we all act surprised at how much it sucks here. But none of this is new to us and I’m going to say something pretty outrageous: complaining about it is really boring. But I suppose it gives us all something to bond over.

I’m going to take a minute though to complain about something that I know I’m not the only one fed up with: potholes. Normally I would never write something like this, but today I experienced a pothole-caused moment of panic that’s compelled me to write.

I currently live with my parents on the northwest side of Indy. A couple of hours ago, I was on my way back to my parents’ house from buying a rug off of someone in Carmel. I was almost home, driving south on Ditch Road in between 96th and 91st Street, when a woman in a large SUV in the oncoming lane suddenly swerved around a pothole. I can’t tell exactly how fast she was going, but she was certainly going too fast in too big of a car to be making that sort of move. I audibly gasped as she swerved into my lane, a split second from slamming head-on into my car. She swerved back into her lane, quite literally narrowly missing my car. My gasp turned into a panic attack as the blood seemingly rushed out of my head and I could no longer see straight. Luckily I was close to home, so I pulled into my parents’ neighborhood gasping for air, tears streaming down my face. The fight or flight bodily reaction was entirely out of my control and it took me a good hour to feel like I was getting back to normal. It’s so dramatic and I’m currently rolling my eyes at myself, but my life literally flashed before my eyes, and my body reacted accordingly.

This whole thing took all of about two seconds. Knowing the pothole situation in the city, that woman should have been driving slower or maybe could have swerved the other direction instead of into oncoming traffic. And what I’m writing about here in essence is not even a problem. Nothing happened – crisis averted. But with one second’s difference, that very easily could have been a head-on collision with a couple totaled vehicles and some serious injuries at the least.

What’s it going to take for the city to take some better action about these potholes? I have no idea how all of this works. There are too many things to know about, I tell ya. If someone would like to provide me with some clarity, by all means. But honestly, whose tire needs to blow for the city to do something?

Small changes. Big difference.

I’ve dubbed 2019 to be The Year of Tessa. I’m 27, I work three different jobs, and I live with my parents (bless them). Why would this of all years be The Year of Tessa? I’ll explain.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m in a position where I’m able to make clear decisions only for myself. I’ve climbed out of the deep trenches of grief and found a new version of myself, one who follows her gut, who thinks critically, and who seeks truth. I try hard to treat myself with a level of gentleness that allows honesty, compassion, and growth. I know both what/who I want to have and what/who I want to be, and I intend to do everything in my power to get there. The Year of Tessa is the first step in that direction.

In this, I’ve started making small lifestyle changes that have made a huge difference. These are things that I should have always been doing, but better late than never, right?

  1. I journal.
    This might sound silly, especially coming from a writer, but this is not a habit I’ve always had. I’ve never been a fan of journaling. Every time I tried to pick up the habit in the past, I always felt like I was wasting my time or trying too hard. This time around, I’ve learned that the trick to journaling is to remove pressure. My journal is simply a vessel for my own growth. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t even have to make sense. But it has to be consistent and it has to be honest.

    This daily habit is something that I now really look forward to. It’s given me a space to breathe and reflect, to get to know and befriend every part of myself. When I can see my greatest fears and insecurities written down right in front of me, I’m able to look at them objectively and develop ways to combat them, which feels nothing short of empowering.

  2. I read more books.
    This goes hand-in-hand with journaling. As far as reading goes, I bounce between books. Some people say not to do this, but I see it like this: When I’m on a long road trip, I can listen to music for a while, but at some point I grow tired of it and switch to a podcast, and vice versa.

    Reading works the same way for me. Right now I’m reading Anne of Green Gables and Pema Chodron’s The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness. Soon I’ll be adding in Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward for a book club. Reading any of these for even just 20 minutes before bed or right when I wake up pries open my sleepy brain and allows me to write down some thoughts in my journal. Or like I did on the morning after Mary Oliver died, I simply write down and reflect on someone else’s words.

  3. I keep my room (mostly) clean.
    This is something I really have to work at. I’m naturally disheveled and not super bothered by mess, so letting clutter grow in my own space is easy. But something I learn time and time again is that when my external space looks organized, my internal space feels organized. That is to say, when my bed is made, my closet is organized, and there are no clothes draped over my chair or covering the floor, I feel much more calm and focused. Marie Kondo might be on to something…
  4. I unsubscribed from all clothing company email lists.
    This is an important one. This is part of the reason I’m in the credit card debt situation that I’m in now. (Well, that and plane tickets, but that’s a conversation I’m not willing to have with myself yet. It’s cool everything’s fine it’s fine.) In my efforts to be a conscious consumer, buying anything new feels wrong, especially from companies that I know use and abuse cheap labor. But like any normal person, when I read, “50% OFF STORE WIDE TODAY ONLY,” I’m overcome with a temporary desire for things that I don’t need nor do I really want. Simply removing the temptation has been hugely effective and calming.

    Fighting the lies that we need more stuff takes real mental effort some days, but I promise it’s so worth it.

  5. I established a skin care routine.
    I think this is what I’m truly proudest of. My skin has always been fine but not great, and with no longer being on the pill, my skin gets rull funky for about a week every month. Not cool. SO, here’s what I, the skincare/beauty idiot, do for my skin:

    – I wash my face every morning and evening with a basic, oil-free scrub.
    – I moisturize with a good oil-free moisturizer. I used to use whatever lotion was under my cabinet, including aloe meant for sunburns and cocoa butter meant for really dry winter skin. Ha. Using the right moisturizer is a game-changer.
    – On Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, I use the blueberry and acai facial scrub from Trader Joe’s. Just typing that out made me roll my eyes at myself, but it has actually changed my skin. The antioxidant-rich scrub has righted many of my wrongs. It’s life-giving. My skin feels softer and looks brighter. Plus, it smells like a smoothie, so fighting off the urge to eat it is a fun challenge in itself. And at five-ish dollars, it’s a cheap way to treat my skin with love.

That’s all I can think of/care to write about now. About a month into The Year of Tessa is teaching me that it really takes very little to bring myself a lot of joy. To see these things as gifts rather than chores is to open up a world of kindness and compassion for myself that I can turn around and use for others.

So if you think about it, The Year of Tessa is for everyone. You’re welcome.


Going Through Changes

I’m beginning to learn a painfully obvious lesson: what has been cannot be again.

Deep, I know.

When it comes to travel and living abroad, I’ve discovered this to be even more true. When I arrived in Sámara last November for the Costa Rica TEFL month-long course, I was thrust into a group of friends that by nature was going to more or less split up at the course’s end. We all had our initial reasons for signing up for the course: some of us wanted to stay in Costa Rica to teach, some of us just wanted to get out of wherever we’d been before and didn’t know what we wanted next, and some of us had simply wanted to take a short sabbatical before returning home by Christmas. I don’t think any of us anticipated that we’d all find such good friends in one another, making the goodbyes come December surprisingly sad.

Including my time in Sámara, so far in Costa Rica I’ve lived in three houses and one apartment, with some couch and hostel surfing mixed in also. Though parting from my friends in Sámara was a major bummer, I had a lot on the horizon that kept me eager and positive. I had to find a new home and a new job; the hunt kept me active and excitable. A few of us headed north from Sámara. The few of us were glad to have each other close by as we nose dove into new cities and jobs and friend groups, but I don’t think I’m the only of us who longed for the simplicity and bliss of our time together in Sámara. But what has been cannot be again. So I applied to volunteer at Abriendo Mentes, which landed me a room in my second Costa Rica house, and then one in my third.

Moving into the third house in January, 3-bedroom Casaverde, located a stone’s throw from one of the best beaches in the province, legitimately changed my life. I was slightly nervous at the thought of living with strangers because you never know how that’ll go, but when Marcela moved in a week or so after I did and I discovered that she had learned much of her English from Friends, I knew things would be okay. And when we got to know Sigrid and Erik, who would be moving in come April, life went from good to (too) perfect.

I have never known four strangers to click in such a raw and real way as the four of us did. Even before Sigrid and Erik joined me and Marcela in Casaverde, we began our tradition of movie nights, going back and forth between our house and their’s to watch the next in whatever series we had chosen. When they moved in, we genuinely became the family that each other needed, all being so far from our own. “Bored” was not a word in that house. On the days when it was too hot to move or one of us had had a rough work day or the hangovers were too real, simply being in the living room together was our safe space. I think I’ve had some of the best, funniest conversations of my life in that living room. Not a week went by without Sigrid kicking our asses in some card game, or without a Harry PotterLord of the Rings, or Big Mouth showing. Laughter was constant. Sunset attendance was mandatory. Love and support was unwavering. Matching tattoos were unavoidable. Looking back on those months, I know for certain that they will always be some of the best of my life and that those three people will always tug on my heartstrings in a major way. Sometimes – sometimes – you just get lucky.


On a warm Sunday in May, the day before Erik and Sigrid would fly back to Sweden, we were a damn mopey bunch. I didn’t really realize this until we were sharing our last sunset beers together with other friends. One of them looked at us and said, “You guys look so sad.” That’s when I realized just how sad I was. Our perfect little family, my found paradise, was about to split up and I couldn’t stand the thought. The next morning brought many tears. After hugs goodbye on our front porch, we kind of just stood there, staring at each other for a minute, before Erik finally mustered up enough voice to say, “You guys are awesome,” and walked to the car. Marcela and I hugged Sigrid one last time and we watched the car of Swedes roll down the driveway. Erik let out his yodel just before they sped off towards the airport, leaving me and Marcela cackling through our tears.

Marcela and I lived in the house together for a few more weeks. She was looking for a new job, so I began looking for a new place to live because the thought of living in Casaverde without my happy little family depressed me. She made plans to move back to Mexico and I found a one-bedroom apartment really close to work. She moved with me for the first few days, then went on to Mexico, leaving me a note in my apartment that I still have hung up on my wall. Part of it reads:

Cosas que hacer siempre:

  • Friends
  • Helado
  • Cerveza en la playa
  • Cerveza en casa
  • Cerveza con amigos
  • Pizza
  • Buscar ladies night a mitad de semana
  • Ver más Friends
  • Llorar
  • Platicar horas y horas
  • Reir y bailar

Now in my funky apartment that has too much loud traffic in the early mornings instead of the tropical birds and monkeys of Potrero, I miss them more than ever. I also miss Eli and Kate, mis compañeros from Sámara who moved up here when I did. The former has moved back to the States and the latter to the Central Valley. I know that what has been cannot be again. Just as our good friend Charles Bradley did, I’m going through changes, and while they suck right now, I know there’s a light at the end of the transition tunnel. I’ve become friends with the new residents of Casaverde and have started hanging out with teacher friends again. I’ve had time to cook, read, and write more. But sometimes I just want to reverse time to a random Wednesday night playing card games in the living room of Casaverde, interrupted only by intermittent dancing to Avicii or Abba or Backstreet Boys, or to crack open cold ones and pass around a bottle of wine. I’m telling you, heaven really can be a place on earth.

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain


International Love

I’ve been really lucky to know three of my grandparents my entire life. My paternal grandma died at the hands of breast cancer when I was a wee babe, so I never really knew her, but her memory has been kept alive in my family in such a way that I feel like I do. A precious gift.

Two of my three living grandparents reside in Germany, something that sounds exotic to others but has always felt normal to me. Yes, it’s awesome and I’ve never taken any of it for granted, but you know when you were a kid and you went to visit Grandma in the summers or for Thanksgiving and you spent most of the time sitting on her couch, visiting aging aunts and uncles, and getting annoyed with your siblings? Picture that but with a $1200 plane ticket. And another language.

That aside, having half of my family on the other side of the Atlantic has been the ultimate gift. Growing up with international travel as a norm has shaped a huge part of who I am. Spending summers exploring German castle ruins and hiking the Alps has been unreal. Having a brain that can switch between languages has been a blessing. And let me just tell you about my Oma and Opa: the flyest, realist grandparents you’ll ever meet. My Opa, an intelligent, patient, hilarious man, married to my Oma, an intelligent, extremely impatient, hilarious woman. Visiting them has always meant adventure, laughter, and good chocolate, and in the past few years, it’s become something that I have simultaneously looked forward to and dreaded. Looked forward to of course because time with them is so sweet. Dreaded because every time I hug them goodbye at security before getting on my return flight, I don’t know if it’s the last time I’ll be hugging them. We like to believe that the people we love will live forever, but we all know that’s not true. And when visits are limited to once a year, the hugs last a little longer and get a little tighter.

This summer, my family has finally had to face the harsh realities of this international love. My Oma, the healthy one of the two, suffered a stroke as a result of an undiagnosed heart condition. (I could talk about about how she went to her doctor complaining about the symptoms of said heart condition, but was told by her doctor without running one single test that she was fine and was just experiencing shortness of breath and intense fatigue because she’s old and Germany is having a hot summer, knowing full well that if a man came in and complained about these symptoms, doc would’ve run every test in the book just to make sure and how this is just another example of a woman not being heard or taken seriously, but I won’t.) She received swift and excellent care, landing her in the best-case-scenario category as far as strokes go. But a stroke at any age, let alone 89, is never best case. Opa, who struggles with a heart condition of his own, relies heavily on Oma for day-to-day care, so on July 3rd, my mama, an only child, booked a one-way ticket and hopped on a plane.

It’s been almost a month and my mama is still in Germany without a return ticket. I came home para visitar on the 18th and it’s been wonderful to be home, but what is a home without its mama? My family has always known that indefinite time in Germany might be in the cards if something like this ever happened, but coming face-to-face with the reality of it is tough. I live in Costa Rica, Jack has been in Boston for the summer and will go back to Purdue in a few weeks, Papa is in Indy, and Mama is in Germany. Our small, scattered family relies on our Whatsapp and Snapchat group chats, staying in virtual togetherness despite the distance. For that I am extremely grateful. We hold on to the hope that the doctors in Oma’s rehab facility can work their magic and that she and Opa will be able to live independently for a while longer. We consider Young Life, my mama’s employer, a blessing for allowing her the freedom to pick up and work from her laptop wherever in the world she is. We relish in the company of good friends to give us something to laugh about and something else to think about. And while we will continue to lean into the support of our relationships, hope, and positive thinking, we also realize that best-case has a time stamp. Health deteriorates. Grandparents die. It sucks.

Jack and I go to Germany for about 10 days next week. There we will spend time distracting our mama, who has dealt with nothing but doctors, hospitals, insurance, and caretaking for the past month. (Which reminds me, if you have her number, shoot her a text/Whatsapp if you think of it. Her days have been filled with sadness – she could use a little joy.) We will sit on the couch and enjoy every second possible with Oma and Opa. I’ll ask them all the questions I’ve ever wanted to ask them about growing up in WWII Germany and about finding love in the post-war rubble. I’ll enjoy the laughter and the chocolate and will probably cry more than usual at security. And I’ll consider myself lucky for making it to 26 with three grandparents. And who knows? Maybe I’ll make it to 27, 28, 29. But for now, I will grip tight to the promise of once more looking into those kind, tired eyes that have seen so much and rest in that international love that has given me nothing short of the world.


Moving Day

In transition. That’s how life has felt for the past year and some months. For five months of it, I had the privilege of living in wonderful Casaverde in Potrero, all of that time with Marcela and two of those months with Erik and Sigrid. With Erik and Sigrid heading back to Sweden and Marcela to Mexico this month, I thought it a good time to move into my own place.

I found a funky apartment for rent in a town close to the school I teach at. It’s loft style, with the bigger bed and wardrobe up a spiral staircase. The apartment is bright and airy and stocked with the basics: a two-burner gas stove top, a rusting mini-fridge, a decent bathroom with hot water (!), an AC unit (!!), a double bed for me, a twin bed for the main floor that will primarily function as a couch, a dining table, two chairs, and a mounted coat rack. Not bad for ole TJ.

Saturday was moving day. That morning, in true Tessa fashion, I hadn’t packed yet. I woke up early, took a shower, turned on the World Cup, and called my Oma, still not packing. Marcela and I walked over to Andrea and Linda’s house to bid farewell, as their year living in Costa Rica was coming to an end. Still not packing. We got back home and I had nothing else to do, so I finally started packing. As always, the big stuff didn’t take too long, but locating and organizing the odds and ends seemed to take forever. I made a pile of things I didn’t want anymore, zipped up my suitcase, and wondered aloud with Marcela how exactly we were going to move all of our things without a car to the new apartment. (Marcela was moving with me for a few days before going back to Mexico.) We could take the bus, but speaking from experience, using the bus to move is the pits. We asked around and found a taxi number of a guy with an SUV. Perfect. Marcela called Michael around 1:00pm, who told us he would be at the house at 2:30. We found Grease in Spanish on TV and enjoyed our last couple hours in Casaverde.

At little after 2:30, a small sedan parked at the end of our driveway. We looked at it and said, “Nah,” because we were promised an SUV. Marcela’s phone rang and lo and behold, the sedan was there for us. Great. We asked who turned out to be Michael’s friend to pull up in the driveway, explained again that we had a lot of luggage, and started piling it in. We somehow managed to fit everything in, with me sitting in the back seat, bags packed in around and on top of me. We drove the 20 minutes from Potrero to Huacas, Casaverde in the rear-view mirror.

I later told Marcela that I didn’t really feel sad about leaving Casaverde in that moment because I felt like our time there ended when Erik and Sigrid left. The house hadn’t been the same without them.


We rolled up to the apartment building, lugged everything up one flight of stairs, paid the taxi driver, and stared at the front door of the next chapter. When we walked in, I went to the fridge to keep cold the things I’d brought over from Casaverde and noticed it wasn’t plugged in. I plugged it in and tried to turn on the fan. Nada. I tried to flip on all the lights. Nada. We flipped off and on all the breakers. Nada. We asked a guy working in the gelato shop downstairs, who pointed us to the main power breaker. Nada. I was not pleased. Marcela called the landlord, who indicated in a mix of Spanish and Italian that he thought he’d paid the electric bill, but would be over in a couple hours to figure it out, so we went to the store, bought a couple beers, and started unpacking.


The landlord arrived and informed us that he had in fact not paid the electricity. Tight. He paid it then, but told us that we’d have to go to the electric company on Monday to prove that he paid.

So, we won’t have power until Monday?


He lent us his chargeable flashlight and went home. Eli had arrived by then, so Marcela and I lit all the candles we could find while Eli went to the store to buy more beer and a bag of ice. We filled a bucket with the ice and beer, turned on music, and enjoyed each other’s company by candlelight.

Moving sucks. Moving in a developing country sucks more. Now, on Tuesday, the electricity has come back on, but the air conditioner doesn’t work, the shower drain is clogged, and the promised washing machine has not yet been installed. But with the right company, a few scented candles, and some late-night fried chicken, yet another transition marked with hiccups and missteps is made a little easier and infinitely more enjoyable.

Rock Bottom

Let me start by saying that I know when I write about this, I write from a perspective of privilege and safety. That I know my rock bottom is still pretty damn good compared to what others experience. That my rock bottom isn’t really even rock bottom. But all experiences are relative, right?

That being said, this has undoubtedly been the most financially difficult year of my life.

When John died, I had a stable, full-time job. I made loan, credit card, cell phone, and rent payments on time. I could afford a gym membership, beer, good cheese, fresh flowers, meals out, the occasional Loft store-wide sale. I was often stressed about money because living in a city can do that to you, but overall, I was comfy.

Moving home, I worked a part-time receptionist job and random odd jobs here and there. Lots of pet and house sitting. Anything I could to make a few extra bucks because I knew I was moving to Costa Rica and didn’t know when I’d be getting consistent paychecks again after the move. Admittedly, I didn’t save as much during those months as I could have. I was seeing a side of Indy I’d never seen before, having not really lived there full-time in about 7 years. I’m so grateful for my brief stint back in Indy and the true quality time I spent with so many old, wonderful friends and don’t regret a single beer, coffee date, meal out, concert, movie, etc etc etc. But… I could have saved more.

A couple weeks ago, I completely ran out of money. Not in the infuriating millennial sort of, “Omg I’m so broke, I never have money, but I can still have a $7 glass of wine with my $15 dinner,” way. Think: Overdraft Notice. Late loan payments. An apple for lunch. Or skipping lunch. Hitchhiking home because I can’t afford the bus. Calling my parents to ask for money. Shoot me.

I have never completely run out of money. Even when I quit my miserable sales job right after college and barely made ends meet by working at Starbucks and a brewery for a few months, I never ran out of money. I guess you could call it humbling, but that’s just a fancy way of saying, “Would ya look at that, I finally have to admit to myself that I really shit the bed this time.”

To be frank, it sucks that I, a college-educated 26-year-old, have to borrow money from my friends when I go to withdraw cash and receive the cute Insufficient Funds message. It sucks that my dad is paying my phone bill. It sucks to watch my friends reach the life milestones that I should also be reaching, while I seem to be regressing to the needy teenager I prided myself in never being.

I think that’s the worst part of all of this. The morning of February 23, 2017, before I got the phone call that changed my life, I was on the track everyone else was on. I did all the right things, had taken all the right steps: worked (mostly) hard in high school and committed to the resume-boosting extracurriculars; went straight to the expensive college for the fancy liberal arts education (k); fell in love; took the first job offer right out of college because even if it’s not what you want, you have to pay your dues and anyway, you should feel grateful you even got an offer; signed the lease for the beautiful but pricey apartment; moved to the new city for the new job that would lead to a new life and new opportunities. Then, John died, and it was almost as if none of that ever happened.

I’m genuinely happy about the good and exciting things that continue to happen in the lives of the people I hold dearest. Promotions, raises, moving in with boyfriends/girlfriends, engagements, marriages, babies, pets, etc. It’s all awesome. It warms my heart. It gives me hope. And it makes me sad. I believe this internal (now external – you’re welcome) struggle is natural. It’s normal to feel happy for and a tiny bit jealous of your friends at the same time. Right? I think what I’m jealous of is the clarity, the ease that comes with generally knowing what’s coming next. But then again, I know that none of my friends’ lives are perfect and that while I’m sitting here envious of their lives, they’re sitting over there envious of my life. The grass is always greener, yadda yadda.

In reality, right now, I’m broke, but life is good. Sometimes it’s hard to see that when all you can think about is your checking account, but it’s true. I finally started a full-time job ($$$). I have three unbelievable roommates – we laugh a lot. My heart is cracking open in a new way again. Watching the sunset on the best beaches of Costa Rica is a part of my daily routine. Never thought that would be a thing.

I’m still a little angry that even though I followed all the “rules,” I was dealt an unfair hand. Part of me is angry that I believed the fallacy that following these “rules” would lead me to success and happiness. Who even wrote those? I think they forgot to factor in exceptions for life’s bullshit. I don’t know what my life is going to look like in a month, a year, five years. I don’t know my plan. But I do know that in every moment I feel weary, defeated, broke, I am that much richer in friends, family, love. That every time my heart or head or bank account hurts, I have more people than I need to lean on, beach dogs to pet, and a red-orange sunset to catch.

Turns out my rock bottom has a pretty good view.